7 Best Acts I Saw At CMW 2016

The Magnettes

The Magnettes

The slightly retooled Canadian Music Week 2016 featured less big name Canuck headliners and what felt like more international co-presents. While this may have reduced the number of sure things and verifiable buzz bands, it also increased the opportunity for discovery if you were willing to pound the pavement.

Over five nights I ended up seeing seven acts that managed to not blow while traveling from club to club, including the my new faves, the creators of something called the “Sad Girls Club.”

Here they are:

7) Fake Palms
Wednesday, May 4 @ Horseshoe Tavern

One of the tentacles of the very good Buzz Records octopus, Fake Palms’ fuzzy noise pop was entirely acceptable setting the table for Bob Mould’s headlining performance later in the evening.

6) Tia Brazda
Thursday, May 5 @ The Painted Lady

I don’t have much time for jazz in general, and next to smooth jazz that winking, old-time, vocal standard jazz might be the least interesting variant to me. It was profoundly unexpected, then, that I came away from Tia Brazda’s set at The Painted Lady thoroughly entertained. It was a craftsmanship thing. Brazda’s band was solid, her voice was good and her songs, a deft time travel through the eras up to and including early rock ‘n’ roll, was surprisingly compelling.

John Jacob Magistery

John Jacob Magistery

5) John Jacob Magistery
Sunday, May 8 @ Horseshoe Tavern

I suspect John Jacob Magistery are the sort of band that have impassioned arguments in the van about how Bonnaro has gone downhill now that they care less about “the jams.” Indeed, lead singer Johnny Griffin’s stage getup of a technicolor blue poncho with “Die Hippie” taped across the chest was just about as in-the-pocket as you could get for a student of My Morning Jacket/Magnetic Zeroes/Father John Misty beardo rock. Anyone acquainted with those aforementioned acts would have found John Jacob Magistery more comfortingly familiar than reductive.

4) JEFF the Brotherhood
Friday, May 6 @ Horseshoe Tavern

For a duo JEFF the Brotherhood make a remarkable amount of noise with their burnout cosmic rock. I’m a bit spoiled by having Death From Above 1979 being in my backyard and setting a high-spirited standard for what kind of party a fuzzy two-piece can create. But even though JEFF the Brotherhood were less DFA79 dance party and more Fu Manchu-style basement headbang session, the resulting ear damage was well within the “worth it” range.

TUNS

TUNS

3) TUNS
Wednesday, May 4 @ Google Party

Sloan’s Chris Murphy, Flashing Lights/Super Friendz’s Matt Murphy and The Inbreds’ Mike O’Neill have formed a new band called TUNS and it sounds exactly like what anyone who loved those bands in the 1990s would hope they sound like — themselves. Picking whose songs were best was like picking a favourite child, but if it means anything it’s old Inbreds songs that I’ve had in my head ever since.

Fat White Family

Fat White Family

2) Fat White Family
Saturday, May 7 @ Velvet Underground

If I were to construct a fake musical product I couldn’t dream up a better band to plug into the hyperbolic NME jizz machinery than Fat White Family. Happy Mondays do The Horrors, Blur Rebel Motorcycle Club, a live action tribute to the film Dig!… I could go on. Fat White Family aren’t particularly unique sounding to anyone who dug British rock bands in the ’90s, but what they are doing is mixing and matching these pieces in enjoyable ways. Also, the ramshackle, we’re-fucked-up air of rock ‘n’ roll chaos they carry seems to play well with the millennials who haven’t really encountered that sort of thing before.

1) The Magnettes
Saturday, May 7 @ Handlebar

The Magnettes were a revelation. Dressed in matching cheerleader outfits with “Witch” and “Psycho” on them, Rebecka Digervall and Sanna Kalla introduced themselves by welcoming the spotty Handlebar crowd to the “Sad Girls Club” before unleashing a flurry of wryly anthemic electro that perfectly intersected Icona Pop and Lykke Li. Their backstory was sharp: They moved from a small northern Swedish town to the big city to get laid… but they couldn’t because everyone was into indie rock, so they had to start their own band. Their moves were sharp: synchronized blowing your own head off gestures married to cheer steps, stomps and jumps. And their songs were deadly catchy, too. Even their electro-fied cover of Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” fit perfectly. I’m pretty sure I joined the Sad Girls Club that night and I’ve got a strong suspicion there are going to be a lot of people filling out membership cards in the near future.

#TheMagnettes at #cmw2016 … Whoa

A video posted by Aaron Brophy (@broph666) on

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People Care Too Much About Cyborg’s Steroid Past

stop-talking-about-cyborgs-one-positive-steroid-test

Cris “Cyborg” Justino is an elite female mixed martial artist who once got caught using steroids.

It could be fairly argued that because she’s a woman who has gotten caught doing this, she’s had to face outsized criticism compared to the many, many high level males who’ve done the same.

Sarah wrote about this for Fightland.

To read the whole story click here.

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Doobie Brothers Concerts Helping Fight Cancer This Summer

Doobie Brothers

Doobie Brothers

The Doobie Brothers are going to be doing a thing when they’re on tour this summer where they’ve teamed up with charitable organization Love Hope Strength to help find bone marrow donors.

The band’s gesture has already saved at least one life and they’re hoping to save more.

I spoke to band original member Patrick Simmons about how charity has informed the band’s entire career.

To read the whole story head over to Samaritanmag by clicking here.

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Elbowgate: Justin Trudeau Should Stick To Boxing

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threw an elbow recently during a tense session in the House of Commons.

Sarah wrote about why he should probably keep the elbows to himself and stick with boxing.

To read the story head over to Fightland by clicking here.

 

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Lykke Li Ain’t No Dance Party

Lykke Li

Lykke Li

February 6, 2009
Phoenix Concert Theatre
Toronto, ON

With all the gays and American Apparel leggings, it would have been easy to confuse the rammed Lykke Li show at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre with some hip West Queen West theme night, but the Swedish pop phenom’s show was often more (and less) than a primpin’ dance party.

The promise of dancing was there. Li started her set with a torqued-up version of “Dance, Dance, Dance” that immediately got the all-ages crowd bouncing. Li, who looked the part of a wood nymph let loose in the city, was all spastic dance moves while she furiously beat a lone cymbal at centre stage.

Li only fueled the dance fire further by asking the crowd early on, “How many people like to dance? Raise their hands.”

The problem with all this dance talk is that in the cold, hard truth of it, Li’s music isn’t all that danceable. It’s sort of like trying to make a mosh pit while listening to a Sugarcubes record. There are clearly danceable moments when one takes in Li’s Youth Novels breakthrough album, but it’s definitely not defined by the boogie as much as it flirts with it in the midst of a sonic adventure.

By the time Li got to “Hanging High” — complete with the rather thunderous double-drumming cameo from openers Wildbirds & Peacedrums — the Toronto audience had settled into a polite collective sway and most hopes of a real dance party were gone.

The Sugarcubes mention isn’t by accident either. Whether it was the strange boa/scarf thing that Li wore that made her boobs look like they threw up leaves, or her occasionally inhuman vocal bleats and wails, Bjork is about the only truly appropriate touchstone by which to compare Li.

It’s fitting, then, that the night’s most magical moment came when Li performed a massive take on “Complaint Department.” Li’s signature song punished in the same way that Bjork perfectly amalgamated pristine vocals and stomping industrial beats on “Army Of Me” almost 15 years ago. She began the song alone on stage and sang to backing programming while she threw herself about.

It appeared this was going to be a Peaches-like solo effort until the song broke down and her entire band reappeared to blast towards the conclusion. The much hoped-for dance party was finally here, but it seemed like the audience was paralyzed by the fact that the dance party they were getting was more Nitzer Ebb than Katy Perry.

The electric circus fizzled out only a short time later when Li entered into the stretch-the-set-out phase of the evening by covering Kings Of Leon’s “Knocked Up.” The song’s by no means a winner to begin with, and Li’s rendition did nothing to make it one.

At least that misstep was more than made up for by the closeout of the proper set with a vibrant take on the megaphone-enhanced “Breaking It Up.”

It was then on to the encore portion of the show, and with it came an intriguing glimpse of what might become of Li. She came on stage alone to do a couple of a capella verses of what I believe was Little Anthony And The Imperials’ “Tears On My Pillow” before she stopped and asked the crowd whether anyone knew what she was singing. Having decided that no one did, she launched into her best song, “Tonight.”

The ballad was what everyone was there to hear, but it definitely did nothing to end the night on a dance-y note, which may have been why Li decided to jar everyone out of slow song mode with what appeared to be a cover of A Tribe Called Quest’s Lou Reed-cribbing rap song, “Can I Kick It.”

That Li took the audience on an adventure that included Lou Reed, rapping, Kings Of Leon, industrial dance stomping, old-time crooning and copious Bjork-isms means she’s going to be capable of pretty much anything she puts her mind to in the future. It probably won’t be a dance party, though.

This review was originally published February 9, 2009 via Chart Communications.

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Sarah Moras’ First Fight

Sarah Moras

Sarah Moras

The latest fighter to tell Sarah about her first fight is UFC bantamweight competitor Sarah Moras.

Moras, it turns out, didn’t even have a weigh-in for her rather hastily arranged fight debut.

To read about it head over to Fightland by clicking here.

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Jordan Peele Is The Funniest MMA Fan

Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele, one half of comedy duo Key & Peele, is really funny.

Peele also happens to be a big mixed martial arts fan.

Peele also also happens to be one of the funniest MMA fans.

Sarah explained why in a piece for Fightland.

To read it click here.

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